This will be ever after know as November National Handstand Month ! Thank you BY Eric…xo
By Laura Jones-MIller
If you have accomplished headstand, Crow, and other various arm balances…perhaps you are ready to take the Handstand plunge! We are going to start at the wall until we are sure that we have all the basics in place. After we have become competent with what goes where and when it goes there…then we can talk about the Rocket (wall free) handstand with a jump up. The final handstand frontier is the wall free glide into handstand…which takes some rock hard core strength, balance, and for some of us a small miracle!. A handstand is really more structure than arm strength…however, you should have some pretty serious arm cannons going from all of those double chatarangas…Thank you Ali. You can prepare yourself by doing plank holds (arms and obliques), and Ali’s Chataranga Challenge classes. That ought to do it! WE won’t do the freestanding Handstand until you are comfortable with the wall version. We will, however, be pulling both feet from the wall and holding the handstand freely in order to prepare our balance for the Freestanding Handstand.
***Make sure you are comfortable with being upside down before starting this challenge.
Preping for Handstand
Coordination is key to success here…upside down coordination. Some people panic when upside down. Not to worry…you’ll get used to it…it’s an equilibrium thing and your brain will rewire for the coordination and balance (Here’s a fun little aside…because you’re mixing it up for the brain…these types of balances are known to improve brain function…so rewiring is a fabulous thing to do! Also, all of the pumping blood and oxygen are really healthy for the body as well!) You should be able to do a headstand before attempting handstand.
Doing prolonged headstands should help prepare you for the upside down coordination and balancing! “Headstand” is a prerequisite for handstand. Do “headstand” against the wall just long enough to get the steps down. You should move to a wall free “headstand” as soon as possible so as not to become dependent on the wall for balance. I do suggest using a spotter when first doing a headstand …wall free. Also nice smooshy grass or sand would be good. I can tell you that you WILL fall over some…so learn how to tuck your knees in and roll to the side…crashing stiffly down hurts and can cause some damage. Another excellent preparatory pose is the “tripod headstand” which offers more support and is easier to do wall free. Ali and I did a narritive and video on “Headstands” last summer…If you have not read the post and watched the video…please do this before moving on to Handstand. Click here for Headstand Tutorial
So, without further comment…off we go!
The Steps to Handstand
1. Start in Downward dog, head facing the wall. Your distance from the wall should be the measure of the length of your calf from the knee to the foot …more or less. You’ll find your spacing with practice and time.
2. Place one of your legs under the belly button area…more or less…make slight comfort adjustments to accommodate for leg length.
3. Shift the body and head forward slightly until the head is just past the hands (This is very important as the head acts as a ballast and aids you in proper weight distribution.
4. Now, (sorry to repeat…but this really does help!…again shift body weight until head is just past hands!). Kick up with the extended leg and immediately follow with the other leg. If you don’t follow with the other leg, the weight of it will pull you back down. If you made it up, come down and do it again. Continue kicking up and coming down…doing a tick tock like one of our Beautiful Yogis introduced us to a while back (Thanks Jesse). The more you practice this kick-up…the smoother it will get. The kick up is a tricky part for many people. But all it takes is a little practice. Sometimes you’ll use too much power (hopefully not so much that you put holes in the wall…it happens though :O ). Other times you’ll use too little and not get up into the handstand. Better to go with the latter at first, as controlling your speed will be key when learning a wall free handstand. Try to use non dominant leg too. This is kind of ackward at first…but if you keep that head forward of the hands you will get that non dominant side up too. Using both sides of the body is really important for balance and coordination growth. It is important to look down, not forward as this will help you with balance later when you are in a wall free stand. Head forward causes a bit of a banana curve in your back…the straighter the body the better. However, not wanting to put the cart before the horse. Let’s just get up there and then we can fine tune later. After we have gone into out first handstand…come down…and WHOOPED with JOY!
…the most important step in my opinion!
5. Oh ya…don’t forget to breath!
Well…here we are again…at the beginning of a new yoga adventure. I am just so pleased with the beauty and dignity of you all. The Beautiful Yogis who take the time to share thoughts, advise and assist one another, and offer love and support for each other. You are truly an amazing group of people. I feel honored to be a part of this awe-inspiring group…All of this has created such a lovely miracle in my life. Thank you for that…each one of you. With love, with a few little ow-ies, and with all of the blessings and love within me…Namaste, xoxox, L